So hard to explain this sport/lifestyle to anyone who is not a part of it. It’s not like this sport that you go to college for, and then go to the ‘major leagues’, and become a pro. No, you either work your way up through the working-student life, and hope someday someone will offer you a position, or you have a lot of money already and are able to fund yourself and become a pro (not knocking that, I’m just saying how the horse world works).
To those of us that are doing the ‘amateur track’, meaning we still are extremely passionate about it, and still have goals of competing in the bigger shows, we go to college, find other jobs we are good at and passionate about, and then fund ourselves and buy our own horses-once we’re able to, that is.
Which means, for the years we’re trying to get to that job-we’re in a semi hiatus, and the lucky ones (like me) still get to ride every week, even if it’s not like we used to. It’s a complicated process, and confusing as hell-because those of us who didn’t choose the pro life still love horses so much, and the reason we didn’t go the pro route isn’t because we ever stopped loving them-it’s because we didn’t love the pro lifestyle.
That life-It’s a sacrifice. Not just the ‘you give up everything else about your life’, it’s sacrificing getting to choose your own horses, to choose to keep them forever if you want, because going pro means becoming a business person. And that, to me, and to the other amateur-route riders, was the sacrifice we couldn’t make. Not knocking on pros at all-They have sacrificed so much, and in doing so have become better riders than I ever could be.
But essentially when you make that choice between the pro route and the amateur route, your not choosing between ‘loving horses more than anything’ and ‘not loving horses more than anything’, your choosing which type of sacrifice you want to make. I couldn’t imagine my life without horses, and while I’m passionate now about other things-like law, and politics-my passion for horses and showing has never died, it’s just had to take some sacrifices. One day, I’ll get to step in that show ring again with the announcer saying my horse’s name.